The Marketing Strategist:
Client Advocacy Drives Business Growth at Unisys
ITSMA’s annual research on How Executives Engage shows that buyers choose providers with stellar track records, knowledgeable experts, and third-party validation. Executives want proven solutions. Client references and advocacy are powerful ways to do exactly that.
In the past two years, the Unisys Client Success Program has been strategically positioned to accelerate the company’s growth. In addition to the successful implementation of a closed-loop process that drives continuous improvement and innovation, it has evolved to emphasize stories, told by Unisys clients, about how Unisys helps them deliver value to their own customers. To date, Unisys boasts 150+ client success stories and videos, more than half with attribution, on their website. These client advocates amplify both Unisys’ presence and credibility in the IT services marketplace.
Many IT services companies concede that securing client references is difficult. So how did Unisys build an enviable collection of client case studies?
The Client Success team began by taking a fresh look at their existing reference program and identified the biggest challenges, which were:
- The sales/account team need references to win business, but due to a complicated and time-consuming process they were reluctant to participate in developing references
- The reference content was focused on what Unisys sold rather than the business value the company provided to clients
- An arduous process required the client to sign a formal form, which deterred them from approving the story because it included other possible reference-related items (talk to an analyst, permit logo usage in presentations, agree to do a case study, etc.).
- Client reference assets were created and posted in an internal repository and were not leveraged more broadly
To address these challenges, the team streamlined the process and strengthened the program:
1. Use CSAT/NPS results to identify advocates
CSAT/NPS results provide a goldmine of rich client stories. With a robust CSAT/NPS program already in place, the Client Success team used the results to identify the company’s strongest advocates. Tying reference development to CSAT/NPS results and new wins provided a continuous pipeline of references.
2. Engage account executives with a streamlined process
It was critical to engage the account team as part of the reference development process. Account executives have the relationship, insight, and knowledge to help develop a strong story. They did this by leveraging the client satisfaction results as a reason to congratulate the account executive for their client’s positive feedback and, by doing so, the account executives were highly responsive to an opportunity to spotlight their client’s success and congratulate the account/delivery team.
The Client Success team also needed to make it easier for the account executives to participate in the reference development process. Realizing that the account executives typically prefer to talk rather than type an email, they asked for a 30-minute brainstorming call during which a single-page reference would be developed.
3. Provide a persuasive reason and make it easy for clients to participate
Unisys significantly enhanced their clients’ willingness to become references and advocates by changing two simple things:
- Instead of focusing on the technical details of what they sold, the team emphasized the business outcomes of their clients. Client stories highlight their digital transformation journeys and demonstrate thought leadership.
- The single-page reference that the team developed in collaboration with the account executive made it easy for the clients to approve. This opened doors, enabling the team to further develop the relationship and expand into other more powerful forms of content, such as analyst activities (i.e., vendor evaluations/comparisons) and videos.
4. Spread the word
Armed with an arsenal of compelling client success stories, the team leveraged the content by:
- Creating a single place on the website for all client logos and stories, making it easy for visitors to see how Unisys is delivering value to their clients
- Integrating reference content into relevant pages of the website to serve as proof of value delivered by the featured solution
- Incorporating client stories and quotes in sales campaigns and social media
- Humanizing advertising by extending client stories conceptually into advertising messages
Creating advocates and driving business growth
Unisys’ focus on advocacy over the last two years has had a positive impact on client loyalty and business growth.
Some notable results include:
- Since 2017, the team has produced and posted 30 client videos and approximately 150 success stories to their website
- The Unisys Net Promoter Score (NPS) has increased from 43 in 2017 to 53 in 2019
- In 2018, Total Contract Value (TCV) for new logo business, which relies on strong client references, more than doubled from 2017
- After achieving year-over-year revenue growth for the first time in 15 years in 2018, Unisys believes it is on course to do just that again in 2019
It is no secret that client references are vital tools. To do it well requires a process that minimizes the time and effort needed from the account team, provides clients with a clear benefit, and makes it easy for them to say “yes.”
You can’t rely on just “leads and logos” to attract new clients anymore. It’s evolved to a lifecycle approach that highlights customer adoption, value, renewal, and success. Learn how ITSMA can help strengthen your foundation to build long-term customer success.